I’ll be honest: I have not done the dishes before going to bed every night for the past week.
In fact, I have rarely done the dishes before going to bed. Instead I stack them neatly beside the sink and do them immediately after breakfast. This is an improvement over leaving them sitting beside the counter all day and doing the dishes before making dinner, as now the kitchen is mostly clean all day. But I’m still waking up to dirty dishes.
If I were even more self-disciplined than I currently am, I might come downstairs at 9 or 10pm after making dinner, tidying up, bathing the girls and spending an hour or two putting them to bed and then spend another chunk of time cleaning the kitchen.
But I’m not. And this week I realized that despite being a pretty reasonably responsible person, the last thing I want to do after I put the kids to bed is stand at the counter late at night and do the dishes.
It’s easy to feel like we’re falling short.
As a society, there are messages everywhere that say we could always be earning more money, keeping a cleaner house, shopping for better clothes or being more socially engaged. This past week, after I announced to the world that I was going to take on the task of cleaning my kitchen late at night, I realized that defining responsibilities is very closely tied to defining priorities. Is having a clean kitchen really a higher priority to me than having an hour or two of time to write, read and knit by myself every evening? No way! Those dishes don’t have a hope of winning out against quiet writing time.
I have a responsibility to take care of myself just as much as I have a responsibility to take care of our home.
Taking time for myself in the evening is more important for my mental health and overall sense of well-being and happiness than having clean counters by 11pm every night. If I don’t have the dishes in the dishwasher before I take the girls upstairs for bed, I’m leaving them until the morning. Because daytime is for childcare, housework and homeschooling. Night time is for everything else.
So there, dishes. I now feel justified in spending the past 40 minutes writing about how I am justified in writing instead of washing dishes. Even though both sinks are full of cauldrons and mixing bowls covered with blueberry jam and bread dough, I will wake up in the morning and wash all those dishes. Right after I eat some very tasty fresh toast with blueberry jam.
Now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about the state of my kitchen, share your experience with me! When do you do the dishes?